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Lee Harrell

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Lee Harrell is the chair of Baker Donelson's Insurance Regulatory Group.

Professional Biography

Overview

Mr. Harrell focuses his practice in the area of insurance with an emphasis on insurance regulatory matters, and is familiar with all lines of insurance including property and casualty, life and annuities, title, and health and producer licensing.

Mr. Harrell has handled every aspect of approximately 30 receiverships across five states and 21 foreign countries, and has an extensive public and private sector background in all types of insurance regulatory matters, including financial examinations, premium tax issues, market regulation, extraordinary natural disasters, fraud and asset recovery, rate and form filings and traditional change of control filings and proceedings. He also assists clients with data and security breaches.

Mr. Harrell routinely represents clients before insurance departments around the country on regulatory matters like formations, expansions, regulatory actions, rate and form filings.  He also represents insurance agencies and brokers on regulatory matters, and represents and advises clients on legislative matters and public advocacy issues. Mr. Harrell regulatory attends National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) meetings, where he has testified before committees on behalf of clients and advises clients on matters pending before the NAIC. 

Additionally, Mr. Harrell advises clients on reinsurance issues, illegal and/or preferential transfer of assets, federal asset forfeitures, establishment of proof of claims process, adjudication of policy holder claims, and the coordination of state and multi-state guaranty fund issues. When necessary, he coordinates press issues and interviews, assists in negotiations with new carriers assuming the policies of insolvent insurers. He also serves as an expert witness on insurance regulatory duties and responsibilities of insurers and agents.

Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Mr. Harrell worked with the Mississippi Insurance Department (MID) for almost 18 years, first as Special Assistant Attorney and General Counsel, then as Deputy Commissioner and Special Counsel. As Deputy Commissioner for eight years, Mr. Harrell was responsible for managing all aspects of MID operations, including licensing, regulatory approval of transactions, litigation, working with carriers on rate and form filings, served as legislative liaison, financial and market conduct investigations, settlement negotiations, and drafting and promoting MID legislation.

Publications & Speaking Engagements

Mr. Harrell routinely speaks on insurance topics at numerous industry, government and education conferences. Topics have included: hurricane and disaster recovery, mediation of insurance disputes, ethics in the insurance industry, data security and privacy issues, legislative updates, life insurance, credit scoring and insurance rates, federal versus state regulation, workers' compensation, Medicare Advantage, tort reform, insurance fraud, reinsurance and insolvency issues.

Mr. Harrell has been a panelist and speaker at insurance-related seminars and programs sponsored by the University of Mississippi, University of Alabama Law School, Mississippi College School of Law, University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University.

Representative Matters
  • Represented insurers before state insurance departments on rate and form filings.

  • Advises clients on matters pending before the NAIC including testimony before committees. 

  • Represents and advises insurance agents and brokers on insurance regulatory matters.

  • Advises clients on insurance premium tax matters.

  • Assisted clients with data and security breaches including reporting to state insurance regulators and state attorney generals.

  • Advised two state insurance departments on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

  • Represented insurance companies on financial and market conducts exams and special data calls.

  • Advises insurance company clients on the handling of unclaimed property laws and regulations. 

  • Advises and represents on insurance company acquisitions, redomestications, mergers, formations and expansions, reinsurance, insolvency and holding company matters.

  • Represents clients on insurance-related legislative and public policy matters.

  • Advises clients on campaign donation and finance matters.

  • Consults with clients on governmental contracts and related disputes and challenges.

  • Represented state insurance regulator in a multi-company, multi-state merger and reorganization involving approximately $1 billion in combined premium writings.

  • Following Hurricane Katrina established the MID Hurricane Katrina Mediation Program and the U.S. Federal Court Mediation Program, which streamlined the claims handling process and resolved thousands of claims quickly and satisfactorily without lengthy and expensive litigation.

  • Supervised over 100 multi-jurisdictional proceedings in the insurance company receiverships, including mediations, negotiated confidential settlements, and representation of the MID in federal and state criminal proceedings, leading to over 16 criminal convictions.

  • Testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on the abuses and failures of the Medicare Advantage Program.
Professional Honors & Activities
  • Member – Mississippi Bar Association
  • Member – Advisory Board of Directors for Mississippi State University Risk Management and Insurance School
  • 2018 Insurance Hall of Fame Inductee, Mississippi State University Risk Management and Insurance School
  • Named a Top 10 Attorney in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal
Speaking Engagements

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